John Lackey, signed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in December, made his debut in a Red Sox uniform on Saturday.
He did quite well, needing just 19 pitches (11 strikes) to cruise through two innings of work against the Twins. The right-hander collected one strikeout, two flyouts, and forced three groundouts.
“I felt like my delivery was on time, fastball was coming out pretty
decent for the first time,” Lackey said after the outing. “Just a good starting step.”
Lackey stuck mostly to his two-seam and four-seam fastball while also working in a few curves. Red Sox manager Terry Francona has not yet decided where his three potential No. 1 starters — Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett — will fit into Boston’s 2010 rotation, but it really doesn’t matter all that much. The Sox are stacked again, even more so with Lackey and his 3.81 career ERA on board, and should contend for the AL East crown all season long.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.